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Reduce Clutter and Provide Child-Friendly Organization
This is an obvious solution, but one that works really well. Clutter can lead a child to feel over stimulated, overwhelmed and anxious. Have you ever had your child have a tantrum or meltdown due to not being able to find the toy they are looking for or their special blanket? Organizing your home in a way that your child understands can help reduce challenging behavior and promote Independence.
Having children, especially multiple children, can make it hard to keep up on household chores and organizing. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do your entire house at once. Here are some steps we recommend to getting your home set up for your child’s success:
- Work on one room at a time until it’s completed. This makes your progress more apparent. Choose a room that your child and other family members spends the most time in. This is usually a living room or kitchen.
- Pick up all soft items. This includes clothes, blankets, pillows toys and other things. Put them all in a pile and tackle this pile first. Figure out what belongs in that room and what belongs in other rooms. As you sort through the pile, grab a basket or bin to put items in that go into other rooms. You should also grab a box or garbage bag for donate items. This is a great time to reduce the amount of clutter you have in your home.
- Pick up all hard items. This includes books, toys, and remotes. Do the same thing as you did with the soft items. Figure out what belongs and what needs to go.
- Remove the unwanted items and analyze what’s left! Figure out what has a specific home where you put it away and what does not.
- Use Picture labels. If you want your child to get into the habit of putting things away on their own (HELLO INDEPENDENCE), picture labels work wonders. Almost every childcare center and preschool has picture labels (take notice in your child’s school if you haven’t already). Why aren’t parents utilizing this simple solution in their homes more? To stay organized long-term, you need to find a specific home (aka a place to put it away) with every item and label so your child can easily figure out where to put things away and where to find them. We recommend using natural colored baskets and labels to Here is a sample:
- Have your child help you with deciding where each items home should be. Children like to feel like they have some sort of power, if you let them help find homes, they will be more likely to utilize them. We realize not all children will want to. If your child refuses, try asking them about what they think about the items home later on to get them thinking about where things belong more.
Use Natural Colors and Lighting Throughout your Home
A lot of people think that children should have bright colored rooms, blankets and other things. Bright colors can stimulate the brain. If you want a calm essence in your home, make sure to use natural colors throughout your entire home, including your child’s room. Having plants throughout your home is also very beneficial.
Natural lighting is also best for a calm environment. Open up the blinds in your home to let in the natural night in from outside (you can put labels on the window as well for the window itself, the sun, clouds and other items you can see from whichever window you are labeling).
Create Quiet and Loud “Zones” in your Home
Have you ever tried reading a book but the people around you are loud or there’s music or TV on that makes it hard to focus? I know I personally get irritated or frustrated when I’m trying to focus and the world is still loud and moving around me. Children feel this way OFTEN. They are constantly learning during early childhood. Every moment in their little life is a learning moment. If they are focusing hard on learning a new skill (a new game, toy, tying shoes, etc.) but there is a lot of noise or commotion around them, it’s going to lead them to feel overwhelmed and lead to them giving up sooner.
Try to put noisy toys or stereos in areas that are typically used for socializing and being loud. Put writing, puzzles, books and other items in more quiet areas. This doesn’t mean you need to designate full-on loud or quiet rooms, just set up your home in a way where it happens naturally. For example, but loud toys and music near the far side of the living room that is closest to the kitchen and put books and writing supplies closer to the hallway or bedrooms.
Create a “Cozy Corner”
We recommend making a “cozy corner” for your toddler or preschooler. Make sure this area is ONLY used for quiet activities or to calm down when your child is overwhelmed. Having an area that they feel safe and calm in can help them focus and also learn emotion regulation skills to calm themselves down.
The cozy corner should be in a quieter part of the home, but still in an area that is used frequently so your child feels close to you even when they are having their alone. It can be small (it should be child-sized). There should be multiple soft items, such as blankets, pillows and stuffed animals. It is also helpful to have books that are related to learning about different emotions young children feel, as well as photos inside the cozy corner of different emotions.
Here are some samples of other cozy corners parents and teachers have made for their own children and students:
Set Clear Expectations
Make sure whenever you introduce new activities and items into your home that you sit down and talk with your kids about them. If you introduce them to new items in your house, do it gradually and set clear expectations for each area and item.
Teach them how to use the labels properly and give them a few weeks to get used to them. This makes for good natural consequences if they don’t pick up their own toys or items. You can take them away if they are left out for a short period of time and explain that this will happen each time they don’t pick up after themselves.